I’m going to start this post by quoting from an inspiring speech delivered by an Aboriginal woman, Christine Fejo-King, at the launch of the book “This is What We said” in Canberra this year:
“For so long Aboriginal Australians lived under the policy of ‘protectors’, it almost seems that we have gone full circle and have arrived back at that point. A state of affairs spoken of by a number of people in this book! Will we in the future be taken back to the time when the approval of the ‘Protector of Aboriginals’ must be sought for our movements, our education, employment and our marriages as noted on my parents marriage certificate here, or the ‘Register of our Births’ as shown here on my grandmothers birth certificate which I have permission by the matriarch of our family to raise and to show. Will we have to seek exemption from a new ‘Protector of Aboriginals’ before we can again experience life outside the policies of the Northern Territory Intervention? We will not do it! We are proud of our law, our culture and the resilience of our peoples.
Free us from your paternalistic yoke, we are not children, stop privileging the voice of so called Aboriginal leaders (your tag, not ours) who aren’t even from the Northern Territory and have no right to speak above the voices of our elders and community leaders who are on the whole good and honourable men and women. Yes there is a difference of opinion about income management but why should that be surprising? Give people a choice and support them where necessary to manage their money, but do not disempower and shame us more than you already have and are currently doing.’ (Source: Nicholson, A. The Failure of the Rudd Government’s Aboriginal Policy. Children’s Rights International, 29 March 2010.)
I would like to acknowledge the group of ‘concerned Australians’, who produced that book.
“The Australian is forcefully loquacious, until the moment of expressing any emotion. He is aggressively committed to equality and equal opportunity for all men, except for black Australians. He has high assurance in anything he does, combined with a gnawing lack of confidence in anything he thinks.” (Source: Robin, B. 2010, ‘The Australian Ugliness’, Text Publishing)
It comes from a book written over 50 years ago and re-this year. One can be but saddened by the appropriateness of the quote when considering Aboriginal Australia today. Prior to The Intervention a casual reader might have been forgiven for thinking that it was an interesting reflection of a time past. Unfortunately, former Prime Minster John Howard and his then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mal Brough, with the support of the ALP have again made these words relevant.
Howard, Brough and the ALP are truly the unholy trinity of Aboriginal Australia. Howard, the conservative and cunning political opportunist, had demonstrated over 11 years that any lie, slander or untruth is acceptable in the pursuit of political power. Brough, a can-do former military man who thought that the panacea for all society’s ills was direction and discipline and believed he was well placed to provide to Aboriginal Australia what they so obviously lacked themselves, backed by the ALP. Finally, there was a gutless opposition, unwilling to stand-up for what was right for fear of losing yet another election to Howard’s opportunism. Together they bare full responsibility for the disaster of The Intervention.
This unholy trinity knew the bulk of the Australian people well and in particular that their egalitarianism did not extend to black Australians. Like the asylum seekers, they were not people at all, but rather beings ‘out there’ who needed to be controlled and made to conform.
History records the fact that Howard lost the next election along with the ignominy of being one of only two sitting Prime Ministers to lose his seat at a general election.
The ALP came to power, Mr. Rudd became Prime Minister and on 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Rudd offered a broad apology to all Aborigines and the Stolen Generations for their “profound grief, suffering and loss”.
Hollow words from a vacuous Prime Minister who was ultimately politically assassinated by his own deputy in a typically opportunistic coup – aimed at securing another term in office at the expense of truth, honour and respect for the Australian electoral system.
The vacuous response from a vacuous government which had prior to the 2007 general election promised to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), renegged on it’s promise. Instead it extended various aspects of some of the more odious measures introduced as part of The Intervention to the wider Northern Territory community in June of this year, in a cynical gesture of ‘equality’ verging on eugenics. From now on all disadvantaged Australians living in the Northern Territory will be subject to the same soul destroying measures the unholy trinity imposed upon Aboriginal Australians. As a nation we need to get rid of our “gnawing lack of confidence in anything [we] think” before we all find ourselves disenfranchised in the name of political opportunism, corruption and corporate greed.
Something for us all think about over the eight hour day long weekend.